31 January 2006

Rumsfeld's growing stake in Tamiflu

Rumsfeld's growing stake in Tamiflu
Defense Secretary, ex-chairman of flu treatment rights holder, sees portfolio value growing.
October 31, 2005: 10:55 AM EST
By Nelson D. Schwartz, Fortune senior writer

NEW YORK (Fortune) - The prospect of a bird flu outbreak may be panicking people around the globe, but it's proving to be very good news for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other politically connected investors in Gilead Sciences, the California biotech company that owns the rights to Tamiflu, the influenza remedy that's now the most-sought after drug in the world.

Rumsfeld served as Gilead (Research)'s chairman from 1997 until he joined the Bush administration in 2001, and he still holds a Gilead stake valued at between $5 million and $25 million, according to federal financial disclosures filed by Rumsfeld...

An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!

The Destruction of the World Trade Center: Why the Official Account Cannot Be True

With the flight 93 movie on last nite and some additional coverage of the World Trade Center I stumbled upon this newly published conspiracy theory...

The Destruction of the World Trade Center: Why the Official Account Cannot Be True
by Dr. David Ray Griffin
January 29, 2006

In The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 (2004), I summarized dozens of facts and reports that cast doubt on the official story about 9/11. Then in The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (2005a), I discussed the way these various facts and reports were treated by the 9/11 Commission, namely, by distorting or simply omitting them. I have also taken this big-picture approach, with its cumulative argument, in my previous essays and lectures on 9/11 (Griffin, 2005b and 2005d).[1] This approach, which shows every aspect of the official story to be problematic, provides the most effective challenge to the official story.

But this way of presenting the evidence has one great limitation, especially when used in lectures and essays: It means that the treatment of every particular issue must be quite brief, hence superficial. People can thereby be led to suspect that a more thorough treatment of any particular issue might show the official story to be plausible after all.

In the present essay, I focus on one question: why the Twin Towers and building 7 of the World Trade Center collapsed. One advantage of this focus, besides the fact that it allows us to go into considerable detail, is that the destruction of the World Trade Center provides one of the best windows into the truth about 9/11. Another advantage of this focus is that it will allow us to look at revelations contained in the 9/11 oral histories, which were recorded by the New York Fire Department shortly after 9/11 but released to the public only in August of 2005.

I will begin with the question of why the Twin Towers collapsed, then raise the same question about building 7.

....Straight Down: The most important thing in a controlled demolition of a tall building close to other buildings is that it come straight down, into, or at least close to, its own footprint, so that it does not harm the other buildings. The whole art or science of controlled demolition is oriented primarily around this goal. As Mark Loizeaux, the president of Controlled Demolition, Inc., has explained, “to bring [a building] down as we want, so . . . no other structure is harmed,” the demolition must be “completely planned,” using “the right explosive [and] the right pattern of laying the charges” (Else, 2004).[20] If the 110-story Twin Towers had fallen over, they would have caused an enormous amount of damage to buildings covering many city blocks. But the towers came straight down. Accordingly, the official theory, by implying that fire produced collapses that perfectly mimicked the collapses that have otherwise been produced only by precisely placed explosives, requires a miracle.[21]....

....North Tower Antenna Drop: Another problem noted by FEMA is that videos show that, in the words of the FEMA Report, “the transmission tower on top of the [north tower] began to move downward and laterally slightly before movement was evident at the exterior wall. This suggests that collapse began with one or more failures in the central core area of the building” (FEMA 2002, ch. 2).[56] This drop was also mentioned in a New York Times story by James Glanz and Eric Lipton, which said: “Videos of the north tower's collapse appear to show that its television antenna began to drop a fraction of a second before the rest of the building. The observations suggest that the building's steel core somehow gave way first” (Glanz and Lipton, 2002). In the supposedly definitive NIST Report, however, we find no mention of this fact. This is another convenient omission, since the most plausible, and perhaps only possible, explanation would be that the core columns were cut by explosives---an explanation that would fit with the testimony of several witnesses.

South Tower Tipping and Disintegration: If the north tower’s antenna drop was anomalous (from the perspective of the official theory), the south tower’s collapse contained an even stranger anomaly. The uppermost floors---above the level struck by the airplane---began tipping toward the corner most damaged by the impact. According to conservation-of-momentum laws, this block of approximately 34 floors should have fallen to the ground far outside the building’s footprint. “However,” observe Paul and Hoffman, “as the top then began to fall, the rotation decelerated. Then it reversed direction [even though the] law of conservation of angular momentum states that a solid object in rotation will continue to rotate at the same speed unless acted on by a torque” (Paul and Hoffman, 2004, p. 34)....

...The collapse of building 7 is even more difficult to explain than the collapse of the towers in part because it was not struck by an airliner, so none of the theories about how the impacts of the airliners contributed to the collapses of the towers can be employed in relation to it...

...Yet another reason why the collapse of building 7 is especially problematic is that it was even more like the best-known type of conventional demolition—-namely, an implosion, which begins at the bottom (whereas the collapse of each tower originated high up, near the region struck by the plane). As Eric Hufschmid has written:

Building 7 collapsed at its bottom. . . . [T]he interior fell first. . . . The result was a very tiny pile of rubble, with the outside of the building collapsing on top of the pile.[68]

Implosion World.com, a website about the demolition industry, states that an implosion is “by far the trickiest type of explosive project, and there are only a handful of blasting companies in the world that possess enough experience . . . to perform these true building implosions."[69] Can anyone really believe that fire would have just happened to produce the kind of collapse that can be reliably produced by only a few demolition companies in the world? The building had 24 core columns and 57 perimeter columns. To hold that fire caused this building to collapse straight down would mean believing that the fire caused all 81 columns to fail at exactly the same time. To accept the official story is, in other words, to accept a miracle. Physicist Steven Jones agrees, saying:

The likelihood of near-symmetrical collapse of WTC7 due to random fires (the "official" theory)---requiring as it does near-simultaneous failure of many support columns---is infinitesimal. I conclude that the evidence for the 9/11 use of pre-positioned explosives in WTC 7 (also in Towers 1 and 2) is truly compelling.[70]...

...There is, of course, another reason why the mainstream press has not pointed out these contradictions. As a recent letter to the Los Angeles Times said:

The number of contradictions in the official version of . . . 9/11 is so overwhelming that . . . it simply cannot be believed. Yet . . . the official version cannot be abandoned because the implication of rejecting it is far too disturbing: that we are subject to a government conspiracy of ‘X-Files’ proportions and insidiousness.[79]....

scary stuff huh? You should really read the whole text and not just the highlights above.

Signaling Vulnerabilities in Wiretapping Systems

Signaling Vulnerabilities in Wiretapping Systems
Micah Sherr, Eric Cronin, Sandy Clark and Matt Blaze
University of Pennsylvania
Contact E-mail: blaze at-sign cis.upenn.edu
11 October 2005; revised 30 November 2005


In a research paper appearing in the November/December 2005 issue of IEEE Security and Privacy, we analyzed publicly available information and materials to evaluate the reliability of the telephone wiretapping technologies used by US law enforcement agencies. The analysis found vulnerabilities in widely fielded interception technologies that are used for both "pen register" and "full audio" (Title III / FISA) taps. The vulnerabilities allow a party to a wiretapped call to disable content recording and call monitoring and to manipulate the logs of dialed digits and call activity. These countermeasures do not require cooperation with the called party, elaborate equipment, or special skill. Preliminary drafts of the paper have been made available to the law enforcement community; contact the authors at the above email address.

We found exploitable vulnerabilities present in virtually all analog "loop extender" wiretap systems and in at least some systems based on the newer J-STD-025A CALEA interfaces. The vulnerabilities arise from the use of unsecured "in-band" signals that can be spoofed or manipulated by an interception target via his or her own telephone line.

This is further proof that FISA is outdated and should probably be updated address the current conditions.

When you click make sure you listen to the mp3 tones

Bird flu adds fresh woe for Iraq

Bird flu adds fresh woe for Iraq

Monday, January 30, 2006; Posted: 8:32 p.m. EST (01:32 GMT)

RANIYA, Iraq (AP) -- Battered by rampant violence and political instability, a new threat in Iraq has been confirmed -- the first case of the deadly bird flu virus in the Middle East.

A 15-year-old Kurdish girl who died this month had the deadly H5N1 strain, Iraq and U.N. health officials said.

The discovery has prompted a large-scale slaughter of domestic birds in the northern area where the teen died as the World Health Organization formed an emergency team to try to contain the disease's spread.

"We regretfully announce that the first case of bird flu has appeared in Iraq," Iraqi Health Minister Abdel Mutalib Mohammed told reporters Monday

"My daughter did not die from bird flu," Fatima Abdullah, 50, told The Associated Press. "She did not like chickens nor had anything to do with them. She did not take care of these birds."

Let's all just hope that history does not repeat itself. The Spanish Flu, which effectively ended WWI, was thought to be transmitted by American Soldiars.

Click the link above for the full story

28 January 2006

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him

Published: January 29, 2006
The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.
The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. "They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," he said.

Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, said there was no effort to silence Dr. Hansen. "That's not the way we operate here at NASA," he said. "We promote openness and we speak with the facts."

Mr. Acosta said the restrictions on Dr. Hansen applied to all National Aeronautics and Space Administration personnel whom the public could perceive as speaking for the agency. He added that government scientists were free to discuss scientific findings, but that policy statements should be left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen.

The real MEAT of the article appears at the end .... you really should click through to read this

27 January 2006

Dog Brain, Assasins and BioWeapons

About 15 years ago I was disucusing how I had inadvertantly driven to my home instead of the place I was going and had not even realized it. I was told that this is called "dog brain" by a friend of mine. You are so engrossed in another activity in your brain (yes yes, I know, shame on me for not thinking about driving) that you automatically just go to the place you are normally conditioned to go, in this instance, Home, instead of turning to the grocery store. Dog Brain

I'm not sure of the origin of the theory or the title. Apparantly there was an article 15 years ago or so but I've not found it. So what's the point? I thought about Dog Brain when I got an email comment about the posting here on 22 January. Dog Brain is the subconscience activities that you do and do not even know you do but to a keen observer it is noted that you do it as habit. It is this very observation that an assasin would use to his or her advantage. Dog Brain.

This is also a useful tool in trying to understand a terrorists mentality. First you have to observe what he or she observes. Put yourself in their head. Next time you have a dull moment eating lunch in that same restaurant, cafeteria or even sitting in your cubicle just observe your co-worker, friend or familiar person you always see. Take some mental notes over time and think about how this activity is repetitive. Now, start to think like a terrorist and see the world through the eyes of someone looking for oppotunities to incite terror. What would you do? If you can think of it so can they.

This exercise of watching dog brain can eventually lead you through several phases. First you'll probably worry about every little thing and become nervous and maybe want the government to implement more police state structure to protect you. But then you realize that the probablity of some of these things is so remote that you can't just shut yourself in your house and hide from the world so implementing more security by the government is going to accomplish about the same. Then you'll remember that one of the original intents of terrorism is to create public chaos and fear so a police state ensues and then their will be a violent overthrow because it will create enough 2nd rate security people with too much power and too little self confidence that everyone will get fed up with being hassed by people with a Napolean complex and just overthrow the government: Hence, we don't want a police state as this plays into the terrorists hands.

The next phase will probably be one of nirvana. You'll understand that there is danger adn that you shoudld be aware of it. You'll begin to ask yoruself where the real danager lies. You'll start to think about what you would do as a terrorist if you wanted to be successfull. You'll observe Dog Brain on a larger scale. How do organizations behave? Are there consistant patterns of Dog Brain? If I where a terrorists would I use Nuclear, Biological or Chemical weapons? Which one of these is easiest to acqire, transport and has the most bang for the buck? Well, let's see, if a potential martyr where infected with Ebola or Marburg and stuck in a series of flights around the country the infection rate would be pretty high and given that 70% of the cabin air is recirculated in coach, well, that might be easier than trying to bring in fissle material and building a bomb.

Have you figured out where I am going with this? Yea, we started talking about Dog Brain and that got the juices flowing but here's the crux. AS indicated in the Mapping the Future document in the previous post the biggest threat given a choice of NBC is B biological. Now why is it that the only thing you hear about in Homeland Security is Nuclear? Doesn't the bio seem more or a threat. There was a time when you could trust and assume that someone somewhere in a government office was taking care of this behind the scenes. I think that given our collective experience with Katrina and Homeland Security you can't trust someone to be in charge. Perhaps the mental midgets in charge are driving home thinking about who they can get to babysit their children during the next conference of world leaders, missing the turn to the grocery store because of Dog Brain and not even being aware of the mental exercise you just went through.

26 January 2006

Mapping the Global Future

Today I had the unique opportunity to attend a lunchean that Ambassador Robert Hutchings was the guest speaker. Ambassador Hutchings the Former Chairman, US National Intelligence Council (2003-2005) and currently a Diplomat-in-Residence, Princeton University. He discussed the "Mappingthe Global Future" Report of the National Intelligence Council's 2020 Project.

"Mapping the Global Future: Report of the National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project is the third unclassified report prepared by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) in recent years that takes a long-term view of the future. It offers a fresh look at how key global trends might develop over the next decade and a half to influence world events. Mindful that there are many possible "futures," our report offers a range of possibilities and potential discontinuities, as a way of opening our minds to developments we might otherwise miss." -Ambassador Robert Hutchings

As the U.S. Intelligence Community’s center for mid-term and long-term strategic thinking, the National Intelligence Council (NIC) has for 25 years been responsible for producing forward-looking intelligence estimates for senior national policy makers. Over the past several years, the NIC also produced three successive unclassified reports on Global Trends, most recently in December 2004 with the 2020 Project.

As its then-chairman, Ambassador Robert Hutchings, wrote, “linear analysis will get you a much-changed caterpillar, but it won’t get you a butterfly. For that you need a leap of imagination. We hope this…will help us make that leap…not to predict the world of 2020…but to better prepare for the challenges that may lie ahead.”

Given the rapid changes in a globalizing world, projecting into the future and planning for effective policy are critical – and increasingly difficult. What role can the intelligence community play in planning for an uncertain future? How can such a process be an effective guide for policy?

"Mapping the Global Future: Report of the National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project is the third unclassified report prepared by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) in recent years that takes a long-term view of the future. It offers a fresh look at how key global trends might develop over the next decade and a half to influence world events. Mindful that there are many possible "futures," our report offers a range of possibilities and potential discontinuities, as a way of opening our minds to developments we might otherwise miss." -Ambassador Robert Hutchings

Here are some ofthe highlights:

The 2020 Global Landscape

Relative Certainty
Globalization largely irreversible, likely to become less Westernized.
Key Uncertainty
Whether globalization will pull in lagging economies; degree to which Asian countries set new “rules of the game.”

Relative Certainty
World economy substantially larger.
Key Uncertainty
Extent of gaps between “haves” and “have-nots”; backsliding by fragile democracies; managing or containing financial crises.

Relative Certainty
Increasing number of global firms facilitate spread of new technologies.
Key Uncertainty
Extent to which connectivity challenges governments.

Relative Certainty
Rise of Asia and advent of possible new economic middle-weights.
Key Uncertainty
Whether rise of China/India occurs smoothly.

Relative Certainty
Aging populations in established powers.
Key Uncertainty
Ability of EU and Japan to adapt work forces, welfare systems, and integrate migrant populations; whether EU becomes a superpower.

Relative Certainty
Energy supplies “in the ground” sufficient to meet global demand.
Key Uncertainty
Political instability in producer countries; supply disruptions.

Relative Certainty
Growing power of nonstate actors.
Key Uncertainty
Willingness and ability of states and international institutions to accommodate these actors.

Relative Certainty
Political Islam remains a potent force.
Key Uncertainty
Impact of religiosity on unity of states and potential for conflict; growth of jihadist ideology.

Relative Certainty
Improved WMD capabilities of some states.
Key Uncertainty
More or fewer nuclear powers; ability of terrorists to acquire biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear weapons.

Relative Certainty
Arc of instability spanning Middle East, Asia, Africa.
Key Uncertainty
Precipitating events leading to overthrow of regimes.

Relative Certainty
Great power conflict escalating into total war unlikely.
Key Uncertainty
Ability to manage flashpoints and competition for resources.

Relative Certainty
Environmental and ethical issues even more to the fore.
Key Uncertainty
Extent to which new technologies create or resolve ethical dilemmas.

Relative Certainty
US will remain single most powerful actor economically, technologically, militarily.
Key Uncertainty
Whether other countries will more openly challenge Washington; whether US loses Science&Technology edge.

The report is fascinating to say the least. If you would like to read the entire report as well as a slew of other reports of this nature click on the link above.

Please do be aware that you will be linking to this via the CIA website so if you got anything you don't wan't the CIA to know about then maybe you shouldn't go here. ;-)

22 January 2006

Assad says Israel had Arafat killed

Assad says Israel had Arafat killed
By Harry De Quetteville, Middle East Correspondent
(Filed: 22/01/2006)

The Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has caused outrage by accusing Israel of murdering Yasser Arafat.

He used what was billed as a speech on democratic reform to accuse Israel of a "methodical and organised" killing.

Mr Assad: 'This was under the world's gaze'
Mr Assad, who himself is suspected of ordering the killing of the Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, said: "Of the many assassinations that Israel carried out in a methodical and organised way, the most dangerous thing that Israel did was the assassination of President Yasser Arafat."

He told a conference of Arab lawyers in Damascus:"This was under the world's gaze and its silence, and not one state dared to issue a statement or stance towards this, as though nothing happened."

The exact cause of Arafat's death, which followed a brain haemorrhage and coma in 2004, has never been made public, but Israel has always denied accusations that it poisoned him.

"When the Syrian president thinks up this sort of delusional accusation one has to wonder what is going on behind the scenes in Damascus," said Israel's foreign ministry spokesman Mark Ragev. "We have said on more than one occasion that we are for a full public disclosure of Mr Arafat's medical documentation. We have nothing to fear from full transparency."

You can click the link above and read more. It's a real pity this boy just ain't livin up to anything near what his father was..

I had reconsidered a re-title for this article as "Just dumb and dumber...and dumber" It makes you wonder if he truly understands how short his life span appears to be...

Breaking Ranks

Breaking Ranks
Larry Wilkerson Attacked the Iraq War. In the Process, He Lost the Friendship of Colin Powell.
By Richard Leiby
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 19, 2006; C0

....Since 1998, Wilkerson has devoted himself to helping at-risk children at Macfarland in the name of Colin Powell, whom he refers to as "my boss" and "the general." Wilkerson works tirelessly to keep them in the club and to secure scholarships for them at private high schools.

Yet these days he and Powell are estranged: This program represents the last remnant of a long, deep friendship between them. Like ex-spouses in an uneasy detente, "we decided we'd just communicate over the kids," says Wilkerson, sounding pained by the situation.

The split came as both men left the administration -- Powell as secretary of state, Wilkerson as his chief of staff -- after working side by side for 16 years. Wilkerson, a once-loyal Republican with 31 years of Army service, has emerged in recent months as a merciless critic of President Bush and his top people, accusing them of carrying out a reckless foreign policy and imperiling the future of the U.S. military.

"My wife would probably shoot me if I headed to the ballot box with a Republican vote again," he says. "This is not a Republican administration, not in my view. This is a radical administration."

Wilkerson calls Bush an unsophisticated leader who has been easily swayed by "messianic" neoconservatives and power-hungry, secretive schemers in the administration. In a landmark speech in October, Wilkerson said: "What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made."

He is particularly appalled by U.S. treatment of enemy detainees, counting at least 100 deaths in custody during the course of the war on terrorism -- 27 of them ruled homicides. "Murder is torture," he says. "It's not torture lite."

As for the invasion of Iraq? A blunder of historic proportions, he believes.

"This is really a very inept administration," says Wilkerson, who has credentials not only as an insider in the Bush I, Clinton and Bush II presidencies but also as a former professor at two of the nation's war colleges. "As a teacher who's studied every administration since 1945, I think this is probably the worst ineptitude in governance, decision-making and leadership I've seen in 50-plus years. You've got to go back and think about that. That includes the Bay of Pigs, that includes -- oh my God, Vietnam. That includes Iran-contra, Watergate."

more at the link above

21 January 2006

A Conservative Against Bush blog

People keep questioning whether or not I am a Republican. Well, I will tell you what my values are and why I think I am a Republican and you tell me why I am not. Perhaps the Republican Party has changed in the last 5 years and I did not get the talking points memo.

I am a Conservative Republican.

To me this means:

I support States'Rights.
I support Fiscal Responsiblity in Government.
I support Lower Taxes for everyone (not just the rich).
I believe in small governement.
I believe in self reliance and limited social programs.
I believe in a strong military.
I believe in policies that are beneficial for business YET responsible at the same time.
I am a Christian.
I believe in the Right to bear arms.
I believe in Family Values.
I believe in Truth, Honesty, Integrity, and Compassion.

So tell me why I am not a Republican? Because I do not blindly follow the Bush Administration over a cliff?

Bush has destroyed our budget, taken power away from the States, created more government, and is not honest nor does he have integrity.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the NeoConservatives do not share the same Republican Values I share. They want to dominate the world through military might. I do not beleive in this.

To accomplish their goals they are willing to bankrupt the United States, build new huge government departments, and sacrifice the economic well being of this country. Why other Republicans don't see this is beyond me.

Or have all Republicans become NeoConservatives? Is that it? Are there no real Republicans left? Is it all about Federal Power, Military Dominance, and controling the world at the expense of the American People? Is that what the Republican Party is now about?

Because that is what the Bush Administration is all about. I wish more Republicans would wake up to this fact so that we can take our party back.

Click the link above for the original source fo this posting.

"Dear America"

The following is about a year and a half old. If you haven't read it before, it's made it's rounds, then you really should read it. I'm not sure if it can be stated any more succintly.

"Dear America"
Received this from Seamus via Col Myers. JDL is a retire two star who forwarded this letter from Lt. Brown in Iraq. It's another must read.

This letter was written by Lt. Kevin Brown, USMC, a Marine Cobra pilot and 2001 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He expresses a basic thought that is becoming a common thread in emails sent by those serving in Iraq.

Those who are serving there are smart enough to detect a basic fallacy in the words of many. Simply stated, one cannot say that one is supporting the troops in Iraq while saying that one does not support what they are doing. In the words of Lieutenant Brown, "you cannot both support the troops and protest their mission".

What they see coming is another version of Vietnam...eventually the charade will be played to its natural conclusion and neither the troops nor what they are doing will be supported. With the rug pulled out, they will then become a latter day version of the Vietnam Veteran. Those who had the Vietnam experience know exactly what I mean. It is our duty to do our best to make certain that it doesn't happen to our successors. Which, of course, is why this email, one that was provided by a major retired Marine circuit, is forwarded to so many.

What they are also seeing is that a large segment of the public has forgotten who attacked whom on 9/11 and who suffered more casualties that day than were suffered on 7 December 1941.

Dad, you asked me what I would say to America from Iraq on 9/11 if I had a podium and a microphone. I have thought about it, and here is my response.

Your Son,
September 11, 2004

Dear America,

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." -George Orwell

The Marine Corps is tired. I guess I should not say that, as I have no authority or responsibility to speak for the Marine Corps as a whole, and my opinions are mine alone. I will rephrase: this Marine is tired. I write this piece from the sands of Iraq, west of Baghdad, at three a.m., but I am not tired of the sand. I am neither tired of long days, nor of flying and fighting. I am not tired of the food, though it does not taste quite right. I am not tired of the heat; I am not tried of the mortars that occasionally fall on my base. I am not tired of Marines dying, though all Marines, past and present, mourn the loss of every brother and sister that is killed; death is a part of combat and every warrior knows that going into battle. One dead Marine is too many, but we give more than we take, and unlike our enemies, we fight with honor. I am not tired of the missions or the people; I have only been here a month, after all. I am, however, tired of the hypocrisy and short-sightedness that seems to have gripped so many of my countrymen and the media. I am tired of political rhetoric that misses the point, and mostly I am tired of people "not getting it."

Three years ago I was sitting in a classroom at Quantico, Virginia, while attending the Marine Corps Basic Officer Course, learning about the finer points of land navigation. Our Commanding Officer interrupted the class to inform us that some planes had crashed in New York and Washington D.C., and that he would return when he knew more. Tears welled in the eyes of the Lieutenant on my right while class continued, albeit with an audience that was not very focused; his sister lived in New York and worked at the World Trade Center. We broke for lunch, though instead of going to the chow hall proceeded to a small pizza and sub joint which had a television. Slices of pizza sat cold in front of us as we watched the same vivid images that you watched on September 11, 2001. I look back on that moment now and realize even then I grasped, at some level, that the events of that day would alter both my military career and my country forever. Though I did not know that three years later, to the day, I would be flying combat missions in Iraq as an AH-1W Super Cobra pilot, I did understand that a war had just begun, on television for the world to see, and that my classmates and I would fight that war. After lunch we were told to go to our rooms, clean our weapons and pack our gear for possible deployment to the Pentagon to augment perimeter security. The parting words of the order were to make sure we packed gloves, in case we had to handle bodies.

The first Marine killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom was in my company at The Basic School, and was sitting in that land navigation class on September 11. He fought bravely, led from the front, and was killed seizing an oil refinery on the opening day of the war. His heroism made my emergency procedure memorization for the T-34 primary flight school trainer seem quite insignificant. This feeling of frustration was shared by all of the student pilots, but we continued to press on. As one instructor pointed out to us, "You will fight this war, not me. Make sure that you are prepared when you get there." He was right; my classmates from Pensacola are here beside me, flying every day in support of the Marines on the ground. That instructor has since retired, but I believe he has retired knowing that he made a contribution to the greatest country in the history of the world, the United States of America.

Many of you will read that statement and balk at its apparently presumptuous and arrogant nature, and perhaps be tempted to stop reading right here. I would ask that you keep going, for I did not say that Americans are better than anyone else, for I do not believe that to be the case. I did not say that our country, its leaders, military or intelligence services are perfect or have never made mistakes, because throughout history they have, and will continue to do so, despite their best efforts. The Nation is more than the sum of its citizens and leaders, more than its history, present, or future; a nation has contemporary values which change as its leaders change, but it also has timeless character, ideals forged with the blood and courage of patriots. To quote the Pledge of Allegiance, our nation was founded "under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." As Americans, we have more freedom than we can handle sometimes.

If you are an atheist you might have a problem with that whole "under God" part; if you are against liberating the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Asia, all of Europe (twice), and the former Soviet bloc, then perhaps the "liberty and justice for all" section might leave you fuming. Our Nation, throughout its history, has watered the seeds of democracy on many continents, with blood, even when the country was in disagreement about those decisions. Disagreement is a wonderful thing. To disagree with your neighbors and your government is at the very heart of freedom. Citizens have disagreed about every important and controversial decision made by their leaders throughout history. Truman had the courage to drop two nuclear weapons in order to end the largest war in history, and then, by his actions, prevented the Soviets from extinguishing the light of democracy in Eastern Europe, Berlin. Lincoln preserved our country through civil war; Reagan knew in his heart that freedom is a more powerful weapon than oppression. Leaders are paid to make difficult, sometimes controversial decisions. History will judge the success of their actions and the purity of their intent in a way that is impossible at the present moment. In your disagreement and debate about the current conflict, however, be very careful that you do not jeopardize your nation or those who serve. The best time to use your freedom of speech to debate difficult decisions is before they are made, not when the lives of your countrymen are on the line.

Cherish your civil rights; I know that after having been in Iraq for only one month I have a new appreciation for mine. You have the right to say that you "support the troops" but oppose the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. You have the right to vote for Senator John Kerry because you believe that he has an exit strategy for Iraq, or because you just cannot stand President Bush. You have the right to vote for President George W. Bush if you believe that he has done a good job over the last four years. You might even decide that you do not want to vote at all and would rather avoid the issues as much as possible. That is certainly your option, and doing nothing is the only option for many people in this world.

It is not my place, nor am I allowed by the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, to tell you how to vote. But I can explain to you the truth about what is going on around you. We know, and have known from the beginning, that the ultimate success or failure of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the future of those countries, rests solely on the shoulders of the Iraqi and Afghani people. If someone complains that we should not have gone to war with Saddam Hussein, that our intelligence was bad, that President Bush's motives were impure, then take the appropriate action. Exercise your right to vote for Senator Kerry, but please stop complaining about something that happened over a year ago. The decision to deploy our military in Iraq and Afghanistan is in the past, and while I believe that it is important to the democratic process for our nation to analyze the decisions of our leadership in order to avoid repeating mistakes, it is far more important to focus on the future. The question of which candidate will "get us out of Iraq sooner" should not be a consideration in your mind. YOU SHOULD NOT WANT US OUT OF IRAQ OR AFGHANISTAN SOONER. There is only one coherent exit strategy that will make our time here worthwhile and validate the sacrifice of so many of our countrymen. There is only one strategy that has a chance of promoting peace and stabilizing the Middle East. It is the exit strategy of both candidates, though voiced with varying volumes and differing degrees of clarity. I will speak of Iraq because that is where I am, though I feel the underlying principle applies to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The American military must continue to help train and support the Iraqi Police, National Guard, and Armed Forces. We must continue to give them both responsibility and the authority with which to carry out those responsibilities, so that they eventually can kill or capture the former regime elements and foreign terrorists that are trying to create a radical, oppressive state. We must continue to repair the infrastructure that we damaged during the conflict, and improve the infrastructure that was insufficient when Saddam was in power. We should welcome and encourage partners in the coalition but recognize that many will choose the path of least resistance and opt out; many of our traditional allies have been doing this for years and it should not surprise us. We must respect the citizens of Iraq and help them to understand the meaning of basic human rights, for those are something the average Iraqi has never experienced. We must be respectful of our cultural and religious differences. We must help the Iraqis develop national pride, and most importantly, we must leave this country better than we found it, at the right time, with a chance of success so that its people will have an opportunity to forge their own destiny. We must do all of these things as quickly and efficiently as possible so that we are not seen as occupiers, but rather liberators and helpers. We must communicate this to the world as clearly and frequently as possible, both with words and actions.

If we leave before these things are done, then Iraq will fall into anarchy and possibly plunge the Middle East into another war. The ability of the United States to conduct foreign policy will be severely, and perhaps permanently, degraded. Terrorism will increase, both in America and around the world, as America will have demonstrated that it is not interested in building and helping, only destroying. If we run or exit early, we prove to our enemies that terror is more powerful and potent than freedom. Many nations, like Spain, have already affirmed this in the minds of the terrorists. Our failure, and its consequences, will be squarely on our shoulders as a nation. It will be our fault. If we stay the course and Iraq or Afghanistan falls into civil war on its own, then our hands are clean. As a citizen of the United States and a U.S. Marine, I will be able to sleep at night with nothing on my conscience, for I know that I, and my country, have done as much as we could for these people. If we leave early, I will not be able to live with myself, and neither should you. The blood will be on our hands, the failure on our watch.

The bottom line is this: Republican or Democrat, approve or disapprove of the decision to go to war, you need to support our efforts here. You cannot both support the troops and protest their mission. Every time the parent of a fallen Marine gets on CNN with a photo, accusing President Bush of murdering his son, the enemy wins a strategic victory. I cannot begin to comprehend the grief he feels at the death of his son, but he dishonors the memory of my brave brother who paid the ultimate price. That Marine volunteered to serve, just like the rest of us. No one here was drafted. I am proud of my service and that of my peers. I am ashamed of that parent's actions, and I pray to God that if I am killed my parents will stand with pride before the cameras and reaffirm their belief that my life and sacrifice mattered; they loved me dearly and they firmly support the military and its mission in Iraq and Afghanistan. With that statement, they communicate very clearly to our enemies around the world that America is united, that we cannot be intimidated by kidnappings, decapitations and torture, and that we care enough about the Afghani and Iraqi people to give them a chance at democracy and basic human rights. Do not support those that seek failure for us, or seek to trivialize the sacrifices made here. Do not make the deaths of your countrymen be in vain. Communicate to your media and elected officials that you are behind us and our mission. Send letters and encouragement to those who are deployed. When you meet a person that serves you, whether in the armed forces, police, or fire department, show them respect. Thank the spouses around you every day, raising children alone, whose loved ones are deployed. Remember not only those that have paid the ultimate price, but the veterans that bear the physical and emotional scars of defending your freedom. At the very least, follow your mother's advice. "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Do not give the enemy a foothold in our Nation's public opinion. He rejoices at Fahrenheit 9/11 and applauds every time an American slams our efforts. The military can succeed here so long as American citizens support us wholeheartedly.

Sleep well on this third anniversary of 9/11, America. Rough men are standing ready to do violence on your behalf. Many of your sons and daughters volunteered to stand watch for you. Not just rough men- the infantry, the Marine grunts, the Special Operations Forces- but lots of eighteen and nineteen year old kids, teenagers, who are far away from home, serving as drivers, supply clerks, analysts, and mechanics. They all have stories, families, and dreams. They miss you, love you, and are putting their lives on the line for you. Do not make their time here, their sacrifice, a waste. Support them, and their mission.
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Please note that the pictures are from the same web site linked above. They are not related to the email above but I'm expressing some editorial control and placing them here. I think they exude the point. Finally, I leave you with this:

"A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled, and less than that no man shall have."
President Theodore Roosevelt, Speech to veterans, Springfield, IL, July 4, 1903

20 January 2006

Iraq Soldiers Speak Out, Supporting Murtha...

On January 5, 2006, Congressman Murtha held a town hall meeting with Cong. Jim Moran (D-VA 08). The soldier who asked the first question served in Afghanistan and said that morale among troops is high and that he would gladly serve in Iraq today. His comment was the only one replayed by Fox News the next day. But the majority of soldiers in attendance spoke out against the current policy. Fox News did not broadcast their remarks. Here are some excerpts.

John Brumes, Infantry Sgt. US Army:
Everything that the Bush Adminstration told us about that mission in Iraq is absolutely incorrect. Furthermore, I'd like to say ... I came home to no job, no health insurance. Until we take care of this war, we can't take care of the problems that matter like health care. I've witnessed both ends... Congressman Murtha, I implore you to keep doing what you're doing.

John Powers, Capt. 1st Armored Division, served 12 months in Iraq:
The thing that hits me the most is the accountability. ... Where is the accountability for those men [who took us to war], as well as where is the accountability for Paul Bremmer, who misplaced millions of dollars and claims to keep accountability in the war zone?... I know that if we lost $500 we would be court marshaled. So where is the accountability for this leadership?
Garin Reppenhagen, served as a sniper in Iraq for a year in the First Infantry Division:

"My question is also about accountability. The soldiers that you see, Congressman Murtha, at the hospitals... those are my friends. After coming back, being a veteran, my question is why? Why did we go to this war, why the hell did it happen, why are we in this condition. A lot of soldiers are debating whether this war was fraudulent to begin with. And there doesn't seem to be a clear answer. A lot of Americans now are debating the fact over whether or not the war was fraudulent in the first place. How come there hasn't been an investigation on the fraudulent lead up to the war by this Administration?"

I don't think that those of us NOT in the military can ever truly understand the mindset of those IN the military. Perhaps we need to step back and really take a series look at what goes on in those families minds.

I think if you read the posting on the following site you can get a glimpse into what these familes are going through, what they think, and maybe, just maybe put yourself in thier shoes for a moment and understand how truly commited they are in their efforts, how truly commited their families are....

I've tried to keep an open mind to all viewpoints but I've had Bill O'Rielly on in the office the past few days in the background. David Letterman was wrong when he told him that "60% of what you say is crap!" I think it's closer to 70%. The issues are so much more complex than the soundbites, yet so many seem to have bought in to this rah-rah crap with out a real understanding of the situ.

CUT and Paste this link in YOUR BROWSER:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

President Theodore Roosevelt
"Citizenship in a Republic,"
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 191

The picture controversy

As I have discussed with several of you folks, here is one of the picture that has got all of the heat for that belgian artist and been banned in a number of places.

I've also included a commentary cartoon entitled "Who says the President doesn't hear opposing viewpoints?" by artist Joshua Brown on 19 January 2006. Do ya get it?

Just to remind everyone I'm not making a political statement with these merely posting the stuff you folks can't seem to find. (I won't mention any names)

Iran 'moves assets out of Europe'

Iran has started moving its foreign exchange reserves out of Europe in a bid to shield the country from the threat of sanctions, reports suggest.
Iran's central bank governor said the country had begun withdrawing assets from European banks, the Iranian Students News Agency reported.

Iran is embroiled in a row with the US and European Union over allegations it is attempting to build nuclear weapons.

The UN's atomic agency is due to meet on 2 February to discuss the crisis.

15 January 2006

Cracking The Alito Codebook

Cracking The Alito Codebook
Ralph G. Neas
January 10, 2006
Ralph G. Neas is president of People For the American Way .

Commentators all along the political spectrum have decried the “Kabuki” theater quality of Supreme Court nomination hearings, where nominees are coached in the expected rituals and non-answers and the media rate the performance for the nominees’ appearance, demeanor, sense of humor and the “cuteness” of family members. Yet consideration of a Supreme Court nomination is one of the most important and far-reaching duties of the Senate. The focus must be not on spin generated by Alito’s right-wing supporters, but on the substance of the nominee’s views and credibility, especially in filling the vacancy created by the resignation of mainstream conservative Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

I would like to point out a few of the most obvious and frequently occurring forms of nominee “spinning” that senators, media and the public should expect to hear this week during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. It is crucial to get past the spin so that senators and the public can make an informed decision about this lifetime appointment to our highest court.

In this era of televised confirmation hearings, it is hardly a surprise that nominees are coached in extensive preparation sessions to present themselves with a pleasant and judicious demeanor, to tell funny stories, to refer warmly to their kids, their parents and favorite teachers, and to have at the ready examples of popular books and movies that they enjoy and of good deeds that they have done. Similarly, an army of surrogates is assembled to attest to the nominee’s friendliness, decency and kindness to others. But a Supreme Court nomination is not a high-school popularity contest, and the justices’ real impact on people comes through their opinions—from how they construe our Constitution and laws. That should be the real focus of the hearings.

The canard most frequently used by Supreme Court nominees before the Senate is that, in construing the Constitution in tough cases, justices function essentially like machines: Just insert the applicable constitutional language, context, history, precedents and facts, and justices mechanically determine what the law is, without exercising judgment or discretion or drawing upon their personal experience or values. Make no mistake about it: That view of the role of a justice is a myth.

As Judge Richard Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, a Reagan appointee and one of the most prolific and frequently cited legal scholars, wrote in the November 2005 issue of the Harvard Law Review , construing the Constitution in the tough cases that come before the Supreme Court requires the exercise of a “political” judgment.

When a nominee says “I will interpret the law and not make it,” or “call them as I see them and act like an umpire,” that tells you nothing about how the nominee will decide tough constitutional cases. Deciding those cases requires, as Judge Posner acknowledged, the exercise of a “political judgment,” in other words the application of a judicial philosophy about the meaning of the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court. Alito’s judicial philosophy must be the principal focus of the confirmation hearings.

Perhaps the second most common canard offered by Supreme Court nominees is the one that suggests that if the nominee has expressed an opinion about a particular legal issue that may come before the Supreme Court, the nominee is ethically compromised, and may not sit on the case. Nominees have been coached to avoid answering such questions, to assert what could be called the Nominee’s Fifth Amendment: “Senator, I’m sorry but I must respectfully refuse to answer that question on the ground that the issue may someday be before the court to which I’m nominated.”

But as New York University Law School Professor Stephen Gillers concluded in a letter released by Sen. Charles Schumer, the canons of judicial ethics do not forbid nominees to answer senators’ questions about issues that may come before the court so long as (1) they don’t comment on specific pending or soon-to-be-filed cases, and (2) they refrain from making promises, pledges or commitments about how they will rule on particular issues.

So with those exceptions, there’s nothing wrong with a nominee expressing an opinion, before the Judiciary Committee or elsewhere, about a legal issue that may come before the Supreme Court. There better not be, because members of the Supreme Court have done so—both before and after they’ve joined the court—for a long, long time.

In Laird v. Tatum , then-Justice Rehnquist declined a request that he recuse himself from the case on the ground that while serving as assistant attorney general, he had referred to the case in congressional testimony and discussed the legal issue involved in speeches. In his memorandum opinion explaining his decision, Justice Rehnquist listed a Who’s Who of Supreme Court justices (Hughes, Black, Frankfurter and Jackson) who sat on cases in the court despite having expressed strong opinions on the issues involved prior to their confirmation.

Indeed, the fact that Justice Ruth Ginsburg, whose testimony at her confirmation hearing is frequently mischaracterized by the right wing, testified extensively before the committee about her views that the Constitution protects women’s right to choose to have an abortion, has not prevented her from participating in abortion cases. The so-called “Ginsburg precedent” thus supports the right of the Senate to insist that nominees disclose their views on legal issues that may come before the court, especially where, as in the cases of Ginsburg and Alito, their prior writings extensively address such issues.

More importantly, the justices themselves express opinions about legal issues that may come before them all the time. We know where each of the justices stood on Roe v. Wade when Casey was decided—they told us in the opinions they wrote and joined. No one would suggest that they must recuse themselves the next time a case based on Roe is argued.

Indeed, the fact that we have a very good idea where most of the justices stand on key constitutional issues most of the time is what makes the vacancy created by Justice O’Connor’s resignation so important. The fact that we talk about “swing” justices underscores that there are other justices whose votes are taken by granted by lawyers, because their prior opinions indicate where they’re likely to stand.

Alito’s right-wing allies will employ the tactics I have described, and others, in an effort to prevent senators from probing deeply into the nominee’s judicial philosophy as it relates to specific and crucial legal issues. But with the stakes so high in filling Justice O’Connor’s seat, senators must vigorously resist such tactics and fulfill their critical duty.

As Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter wrote in his 2000 book, Passion for Truth : “[T]he Senate should resist, if not refuse, to confirm Supreme Court nominees who refuse to answer questions on fundamental issues. In voting on whether or not to confirm a nominee, senators should not have to gamble or guess about a candidate’s philosophy, but should be able to judge on the basis of the candidate’s expressed views."

Ahmadinejad: Not Crazy, Cunning

Ahmadinejad: Not Crazy, Cunning
Tom Porteous
January 13, 2006
Tom Porteous is a freelance writer and analyst who has worked for the BBC and the U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office. He recently returned from Iran.

Why is Iran 's new president going out of his way to provoke the United State s, Israel and Europe with his brinkmanship overIran 's nuclear program and repeated denial of the Holocaust?

Many commentators have put the intern ational posturing of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad down to inexperience and incompetence. But it would be foolish to underrate a man who has survived the hurly-burly of Iran's Islamic revolution and one of the bloodiest conflicts of the past quarter century (the Iran-Iraq war, where Ahmadinejad served as a Revolutionary Guard commander) to emerge in his 40s as post-revolutionary Iran's first non-clerical president.

The signs are that Ahmadinejad's rhetoric, both on Iran 's civil nuclear program (which the West fears is a cover for plans to produce nuclear weapons) and onIsrael, is deliberate and calculated. Like much of his political maneuvering since he unexpectedly won last year's presidential elections, Ahmadinejad's intern ational gestures are probably designed with one principle aim in mind: to ensure political survival in the power struggle that is now underway at the heart ofIran 's fragmented power structure.

It is a power struggle that Ahmadinejad is by no means certain to win. The Iranian presidency is the most important elected office inIran. But it is only one of several centers of power and not the most powerful one, as Ahmadinejad's reformist predecessor in the president's office, Mohammad Khatami, discovered to his cost. The oligarchs who control the unelected institutions of the state and much ofIran 's formal and informal economy blocked Khatami's reformist agenda because it threatened their vested interests, and they are likely to block Ahmadinejad's radical Islamist and populist agenda.

Ahmadinejad knows what he is up against and that's why he is pulling out all the stops to secure his position, with populist promises ranging from wealth redistribution and an end to corruption, to the creation of conditions for the return of the Mahdi, Shi'a Islam's last imam who disappeared a little over a thousand years ago and whose return, many Iranians believe, will herald an age of universal justice.

In the power struggle now being played out in Iran, Ahmadinejad may well see intern ational economic sanctions and even military confrontation between Iran and the West as opportunities to consolidate his position withinIran. Given the chance, he would use a showdown with the West to take on the role ofIran 's defender against foreign aggression, to wrest control of the economy from the oligarchs, and to undermine rival centers of power in the security forces under the cover of a general military mobilization.

If this is indeed Ahmadinejad's strategy, it is not without risks. But the political calculations that underpin it indicate an astute understanding on the part of Iran 's president of the new political realities in the region in the aftermath of 9/11 and the U.S. military adventures in the Middle East and Central Asia.

With the U.S. and Britain already in trouble in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the West's options for dealing withIran are limited. Economic sanctions onIran would do little to damage the Iranian government—indeed they could widen the scope for profiteering among the political elite. As for military action, it is doubtful that the U.S. is capable of launching, let alone winning, the full scale war againstIran that would be necessary to effect regime change. But any military action that stopped short of regime change could well result in the consolidation of the power of the fundamentalists around the Iranian president, and would set back the prospects of political reform inIran for years.

Another indication that Iran's president is not the political novice he is made out to be by his enemies is that Ahmadinejad has cleverly chosen to pick his fight with the west over two highly emotive issues that not only unite the otherwise fragmented regime, but are also more or less bound to provoke the kind of knee-jerk Western reaction that will play into his hands.

If theU.S. and its allies were not so obsessed about the nexus of "rogue states," terrorism and WMDs, and if their Middle East policies incorporated a more balanced approach towards Israel (the region's unofficially acknowledged nuclear hegemon), then a more sensible and safer Western strategy towardsIran could take shape.

Such a strategy would first accept the inevitability that sooner or later Iran will, if it wishes, acquire nuclear weapons, and secondly work diplomatically and politically to ensure that by the time Iran does acquire such capability the country is led by a reforming government that neither feels threatened by nor threatens its neighbors.

If Iran were left alone, the checks and balances of Iranian politics—Iran is no dictatorship—would probably lead to the marginalization of Ahmadinejad's brand of revolutionary revivalism and a resurgence of the now blocked political reformism of the Khatami era.

As things stand, however, the countdown to confrontation between the West andIran has already started. And such a confrontation may well backfire on the West, assisting the consolidation of radical Islamist politics in Iran and providing Tehran with incentives not only to develop nukes, but to use them.

The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TV

The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TV
Media Beat (1/4/95)
By Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon

It's become a TV ritual: Every year in mid-January, around the time of Martin Luther King's birthday, we get perfunctory network news reports about "the slain civil rights leader." The remarkable thing about this annual review of King's life is that several years — his last years — are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole. What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King battling desegregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).

An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn't take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever.

Almost all of those speeches were filmed or taped. But they're not shown today on TV.


It's because national news media have never come to terms with what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for during his final years.

In the early 1960s, when King focused his challenge on legalized racial discrimination in the South, most major media were his allies. Network TV and national publications graphically showed the police dogs and bullwhips and cattle prods used against Southern blacks who sought the right to vote or to eat at a public lunch counter.

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights" — including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for "radical changes in the structure of our society" to redistribute wealth and power.

"True compassion," King declared, "is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."

By 1967, King had also become the country's most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 — a year to the day before he was murdered — King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."

From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, King said, the U.S. was "on the wrong side of a world revolution." King questioned "our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America," and asked why the U.S. was suppressing revolutions "of the shirtless and barefoot people" in the Third World, instead of supporting them.

In foreign policy, King also offered an economic critique, complaining about "capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries."

You haven't heard the "Beyond Vietnam" speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967 — and loudly denounced it. Time magazine called it "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." The Washington Post patronized that "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."

In his last months, King was organizing the most militant project of his life: the Poor People's Campaign. He crisscrossed the country to assemble "a multiracial army of the poor" that would descend on Washington — engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol, if need be — until Congress enacted a poor people's bill of rights. Reader's Digest warned of an "insurrection."

King's economic bill of rights called for massive government jobs programs to rebuild America's cities. He saw a crying need to confront a Congress that had demonstrated its "hostility to the poor" — appropriating "military funds with alacrity and generosity," but providing "poverty funds with miserliness."

How familiar that sounds today, more than a quarter-century after King's efforts on behalf of the poor people's mobilization were cut short by an assassin's bullet.

As 1995 gets underway, in this nation of immense wealth, the White House and Congress continue to accept the perpetuation of poverty. And so do most mass media. Perhaps it's no surprise that they tell us little about the last years of Martin Luther King's life.

Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon are syndicated columnists and authors of Adventures in Medialand: Behind the News, Beyond the Pundits (Common Courage Press).

14 January 2006

Avian Flu Pandemic Planning Guides Released

Avian Flu Pandemic Planning Guides Released

The continued threat of Avian Flu is once again gaining momentum in the press, and within government agencies. While many continue to warn the public of the impending health crisis, there are a group of people who maintain that the continued threat of a pandemic is remote, even non-existent. The Northeast Intelligence Network's position on the Avian Flu is: "Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst".

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says:
"The avian flu bears the potential for societal disruption of unprecedented proportion. Strong partnerships and smart planning will be our best protection against this threat. At the president's direction, we are tapping every capability and expertise within the federal government and among first responders and public health officials to maximize our nation's preparedness." This does not mean that any American citizen should expect the government to take care of them. Those who follow that flawed line of thinking were most recently (and most severely) disappointed in the wake of hurricane Katrina. Michael Chertoff also says: "Stockpiling supplies and developing family response plans in case disaster strikes not only might save lives - it's also a civic duty."

In the first week of 2006, the United States Government released a planning guide for dealing with the upcoming outbreak of a pandemic. This is located at a highly recommended government web site, which contains the official "What you need to know" information for Americans. Some of the planning guide's topics include:

• Social Disruption May Be Widespread
• Being Able to Work May Be Difficult or Impossible
• Schools May Be Closed for an Extended Period of Time
• Transportation Services May Be Disrupted
• People Will Need Advice and Help at Work and Home
• Be Prepared

Let the above list of topics sink in for a moment. Sounds pretty bad, doesn't it? Once the meanings of those topics are reflected upon, the true scope of pandemic effects begin to be revealed.

Even when confronted with these disturbing facts, and when given this kind of tool for use, some people will not take a pandemic threat seriously. Tom Brokaw, Ted Koppel, and Tim Russert were warning about the imminent threat of Avian Flu pandemic on Christmas Day, on MSNBC's Meet The Press. The transcript of this show is located here. During this broadcast, Tim Russert, the host of this program, asked the question: "Ted Koppel, how do you cover a story like that without alarming people and still do your job as a journalist to prepare people?" Perhaps this is the reason that more media and politicians are not sounding the alarm to the American people. Certainly, no one wants to be held responsible for inciting panic or riots over the severity of an Avian Flu pandemic, even though the need remains to prepare people for its eventuality.

All one need do is read the warnings that are currently out there, to know that we are being warned by our own government about the eventuality of a worldwide Avian Flu pandemic. Likewise, one must "read between the lines" to know that this may be all the warning we get, in order to avoid the certain panic, riots, and bare shelves that will face us when the threat of Avian Flu and the necessity of self-quarantine becomes too obvious to ignore.

Government officials urge people to prepare to be on their own for up to six months in the event of a pandemic. There is a government-sponsored planning guide released, that outlines the need to be ready, the need to be able to live in one's home, without services or work or transportation for an extended period. The threat is real. The need to be prepared is real. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

07 January 2006

Pentagon Study Links Fatalities to Body Armor

Published: January 7, 2006
A secret Pentagon study has found that as many as 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had had extra body armor. Such armor has been available since 2003, but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.....

A really bad "what if"

Let's pretend a worse case scenario with a couple of potential headlines:

"King Fahd of Saudi Arabia dies"
King Fahd, Saudi Arabia's ruler since 1982, has died at the age of 84. Saudi state television announced Crown Prince Abdullah, his half-brother, had been named as King Fahd's successor. Defence Minister Prince Sultan is next in line to the throne after Abdullah, his half-brother, and was named crown prince.

"Panic hits Turkey bird flu town"
Residents of the eastern Turkish town hit by a fatal outbreak of bird flu in humans have besieged a local hospital seeking treatment for symptom

"Khaddam calls for Syrian revolt"
Former Syrian Vice-President Abdul Halim Khaddam says he wants to see President Bashar al-Assad ousted through a popular uprising

"Chinese farmer in suicide attack"
"A Chinese farmer has set off a bomb in a court house in north-west China, killing himself and four other people including the court president.....stories like this have become increasingly common in China in recent years.Ordinary Chinese people who feel unfairly treated by China's one party state have virtually no way of gaining recourse. In their frustration some turn to violence and the preferred method is often some sort of bomb. Explosives are relatively easy to come by in China, unlike firearms which are very tightly controlled."

"UN suspends Pakistan aid flights"
The UN has stopped aid flights to some earthquake survivors in Pakistan administered Kashmir after dozens of people stormed two of its helicopters... I presume they were coming down from the mountains and basically wanted out. It's very cold there -Larry Hollingworth, UN humanitarian coordinator

" Canada became the third Western country today to close down its embassy in the Jordania capital, Amman, due to security reasons. The Canadian Embassy's decision came hours after the Australia mission declared its closure and a day after the British Embassy shut down indefinitely"

"CIA Director Porter Goss: Iran Has Nukes"

"Goss warns Ankara to be ready for a possible U.S. aerial operation against Iran and Syria"

"Bashar al-Assad is assinated. Syria in a state of civil turmoil"

"First human to human case of bird flu found in Belgium"

"Netanyahu wins Israeli election. Vows to resettle settlements in disputed territory"
Binyamin Netanyahu, 56, was for years Mr Sharon's main political rival in the Likud party. Articulate, ambitious and a masterful communicator, Mr Netanyahu reclaimed the helm of the party following Mr Sharon's departure at the end of last year, vowing to restore it to its traditional right-wing ideology. An arch-hawk, Mr Netanyahu fiercely opposed the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians and the concept of land for peace. He served as foreign then finance minister in Mr Sharon's cabinet, before quitting in protest at Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Mr Netanyahu has also hinted that he would not rule out a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities if he was re-elected.

"King Abdullah dies. Prince Turki al-Faisal becomes leader of Suadia Arabia"

"Anarchy in China as health system is overwhlemed by FLu Pandemic victoms"

"US invades Syria to stabilize country"

"Netanyahu attacks Iranian nuclear facilities"

"Iran to retaliate against Israel: Appeals to all Muslims to attack"

"Israel and Iraq declare war!"

"US backs Israel. Suadia Arabia may have mixed allegiances"

"Bird Flu pandemic creates anarchy in Pakistan. Goverment expected to fall"

"Middle East in a state of chaos AND IT's SPREADING!"

...the first group are all actual headlines

05 January 2006

Esprit de CORPs

This is an email I got from a friend of mine. Sometimes there are stories that are just flat out INSPIRATIONAL. It's why The Marines are certainly The Few and The Proud.

Thought you might like the story and picture. Gunnery Sergeant Burkhardt was my EOD team chief on our deployment in 2004; reference in the story.

The Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant in the picture (attachment) is Michael Burghard, part of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team that is supporting 2nd Brigade 28th Infantry Division (Pennsylvania Army National Guard). I heard the below story first hand last Saturday during a video teleconference between his Brigade Commander and the 28th Infantry Division Commander. I thought that others should hear it as well, as I think it demonstrates the true spirit of most of our troops on the ground (from my experience).

Leading the fight is Gunnery Sgt Michael Burghardt, known as "Iron Mike" or just "Gunny". He is on his third tour in Iraq. He had become a legend in the bomb disposal world after winning the Bronze Star for disabling 64 IEDs and destroying 1,548 pieces of ordnance during his second tour. Then, on September 19, he got blown up. He had arrived at a chaotic scene after a bomb had killed four US soldiers. He chose not to wear the bulky bomb protection suit. "You can't react to any sniper fire and you get tunnel-vision," he explains. So, protected by just a helmet and standard-issue flak jacket, he began what bomb disposal officers term "the longest walk", stepping gingerly into a 5ft deep and 8ft wide crater. The earth shifted slightly and he saw a Senao base station with a wire leading from it. He cut the wire and used his 7in knife to probe the ground. "I found a piece of red detonating cord between my legs," he says. "That's when I knew I was screwed."

Realizing he had been sucked into a trap, Sgt Burghardt, 35, yelled at everyone to stay back. At that moment, an insurgent, probably watching through binoculars, pressed a button on his mobile phone to detonate the secondary device below the sergeant's feet. "A chill went up the back of my neck and then the bomb exploded," he recalls. "As I was in the air I remember thinking, 'I don't believe they got me.' I was just ticked off they were able to do it. Then I was lying on the road, not able to feel anything from the waist down."

His colleagues cut off his trousers to see how badly he was hurt. None could believe his legs were still there. "My dad's a Vietnam vet who's paralyzed from the waist down," says Sgt Burghardt. "I was lying there thinking I didn't want to be in a wheelchair next to my dad and for him to see me like that. They started to cut away my pants and I felt a real sharp pain and blood trickling down. Then I wiggled my toes and I thought, 'Good, I'm in business.' As a stretcher was brought over, adrenaline and anger kicked in. "I decided to walk to the helicopter. I wasn't going to let my team-mates see me being carried away on a stretcher." He stood and gave the insurgents who had blown him up a one-fingered salute. "I flipped them one. It was like, 'OK, I lost that round but I'll be back next week'."

Copies of a photograph depicting his defiance, taken by Jeff Bundy for the Omaha World-Herald, adorn the walls of homes across America and that of Col John Gronski, the brigade commander in Ramadi, who has hailed the image as an exemplar of the warrior spirit. Sgt Burghardt's injuries - burns and wounds to his legs and buttocks - kept him off duty for nearly a month and could have earned him a tic ket home. But, like his father - who was awarded a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action in Vietnam - he stayed in Ramadi to engage in the battle against insurgents who are forever coming up with more ingenious ways of killing Americans

US lists 10 foiled terror plots

US lists 10 foiled terror plots

It is not clear how serious or advanced some of the plots were
The White House has given details of 10 major terror plots that President Bush says have been foiled by the US and its allies since the 11 September attacks.
Mr Bush cited the disrupted plans in a speech, designed to boost support for the so-called war on terror.

They include a plot to use hijacked aircraft to hit the US East and West coasts and to attack Heathrow Airport.

But the sketchy details provided by the White House make it hard to assess how serious or advanced the plans were.

Most of the plots have been previously reported in some form, but a few were revealed for the first time.

Mr Bush also mentioned five instances where targets within the US had been "cased" - including the cases of Iyman Faris who was accused of exploring the destruction of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

White House list of disrupted plots:

West Coast airliner
In mid-2002 the US disrupted a plot to attack targets on the West Coast of the United States using hijacked aeroplanes. The plotters included at least one major operational planner involved in planning the events of 11 September 2001.

Overall, the United States and our partners have disrupted at least 10 serious al-Qaeda terrorist plots since 11 September, including three al-Qaeda plots to attack inside the United States

East Coast airliner
In mid-2003 the US and a partner disrupted a plot to attack targets on the East Coast of the United States using hijacked commercial aeroplanes.

Jose Padilla
In May 2002, the US disrupted a plot that involved blowing up apartment buildings in the United States. One of the plotters, Jose Padilla, also discussed the possibility of using a dirty bomb in the US.

2004 UK urban targets
In 2004, the US and partners disrupted a plot that involved urban targets in the United Kingdom. These plots involved using explosives against a variety of sites.

2003 Karachi
In the spring of 2003, the US and a partner disrupted a plot to attack Westerners at several targets in Karachi, Pakistan.

London Heathrow Airport
In 2003, the US and several partners disrupted a plot to attack Heathrow Airport using hijacked commercial airliners. The planning for this attack was undertaken by a major 11 September operational figure.

2004 UK
In 2004, the US and partners, using a combination of law enforcement and intelligence resources, disrupted a plot to conduct bombings in the UK.

2002 Gulf shipping
In late 2002 and 2003, the US and a partner nation disrupted a plot by al-Qaeda operatives to attack ships in the Gulf.

2002 Straits of Hormuz
In 2002, the US and partners disrupted a plot to attack ships transiting the Straits of Hormuz.

2003 tourist site
In 2003 the US and a partner nation disrupted a plot to attack a tourist site outside the United States.

White House list of casings and infiltrations:

US government and tourist sites tasking
In 2003 and 2004, an individual was tasked by al-Qaeda to case important US government and tourist targets within the United States.

Gas station tasking
Around 2003, an individual was tasked to collect targeting information on US gas stations and their support mechanisms on behalf of a senior al-Qaeda planner.

Iyman Faris and the Brooklyn Bridge
In 2003, and in conjunction with a partner nation, the US government arrested and prosecuted Iyman Faris, who was exploring the destruction of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. Faris ultimately pleaded guilty to providing material support to al-Qaeda and is now in a federal correctional institution.

2001 tasking
In 2001, al-Qaeda sent an individual to facilitate post-11 September attacks in the US Law enforcement authorities arrested the individual.

2003 tasking
In 2003, an individual was tasked by an al-Qaeda leader to conduct reconnaissance on populated areas in the US.

Spying, CNN and the Kerry campaign: Is there a there there?

Spying, CNN and the Kerry campaign: Is there a there there?

It gets curiouser and curiouser.

As we noted Wednesday, AMERICAblog's John Aravosis noticed an odd moment in Andrea Mitchell's interview this week with New York Times reporter James Risen: While interviewing Risen about his new book and revelations that George W. Bush authorized warrantless spying on American citizens, Mitchell asked Risen if he had any information suggesting that CNN's international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, "might have been eavesdropped upon." Risen said he didn't. But as Aravosis surmised, the question certainly suggested that Mitchell did.

Right about the time Aravosis' theory started floating through the blogosphere, somebody deleted Mitchell's question and Risen's answer from the transcript posted on MSNBC's Web site. We said we'd like to hear an explanation, and TVNewser actually went to the trouble of getting one. "Unfortunately this transcript was released prematurely," reads a statement TVNewser says it got from NBC. "It was a topic on which we had not completed our reporting, and it was not broadcast on 'NBC Nightly News' nor on any other NBC News program. We removed that section of the transcript so that we may further continue our inquiry."

Assuming the statement is legitimate, that sure seems to us like a long way of saying, "Yeah, we're looking into the possibility that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on Christiane Amanpour."

Now, it's probably time for a deep breath and some patience here. What we've got here is some reading between the lines, and it's about a question, not an answer. But as we said yesterday, if the answer is ultimately answered in the affirmative -- that is, if the Bush administration has indeed been listening in on Amanpour's phone -- the implications are enormous. We don't much like the idea that the government might be listening in on the conversations of a reporter. And Amanpour isn't just any reporter: She is married to Jamie Rubin, a State Department spokesman under Bill Clinton and a foreign policy advisor to John Kerry's presidential campaign. If the Bush administration was listening in on Amanpour's phone, was it listening when she talked with her husband? Was it listening when he might have used her phone himself?

Again, what we've got here are hints about a question. We're a long way from an answer. But when you start circumventing Congress and the courts and begin to spy on Americans in a way that you insist you aren't, you invite questions like these. And along the way, you invite people to think about the last time some people who worked for a president tried to spy on the opposition.

-- Tim Grieve

New York Times reporter James Risen first broke the story two weeks ago that the National Security Agency began spying on domestic communications soon after 9/11. In a new book out Tuesday, "State of War," he says it was a lot bigger than that. Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell sat down with Risen to talk about the NSA, and the run-up to the war in Iraq....

Mitchell: Do you have any information about reporters being swept up in this net?

Risen: No, I don't. It's not clear to me. That's one of the questions we'll have to look into the future. Were there abuses of this program or not? I don't know the answer to that

Mitchell: You don't have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?

Risen: No, no I hadn't heard that.

H5N1 Do you have a plan?

Has your community made a plan in the event that H5N1 can be passed by human ot human contact? Has your company? What aboout your local community fire and police service? What happens if 40% of the people don't show up to work? What happens when the mortality rate is 60%? Now is the time ot be thinking about this....

"Turkey diagnoses human bird flu"

"At least two people in eastern Turkey have tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, reports say.
The country's health minister said a 14-year-old boy who died last weekend was found to have the disease, despite earlier results indicating otherwise.

The boy's sister, who is seriously ill in hospital, also tested positive. A third sibling has symptoms of bird flu.

This is the first time the H5N1 strain has been detected outside east Asia, where it has killed at least 70 people.

The boy, named as Mehmet Ali Kocyigit, died on Sunday in the city of Van in eastern Turkey.

Bird flu
He and his brothers and sisters lived and worked on a poultry farm in the town of Dogubayezit, close to the border with Iran.

Health Minister Recep Akdag said the family ate infected birds, which they kept in their home.

'Don't panic'

"There are two cases that have been confirmed as positive by the laboratory, said Mr Akdag.

This is not the start of the pandemic Dr David Nabarro World Health Organisation
"Another case is suspected of being positive. We have a pandemic plan ready. There is no need to be too alarmist."

click the link above for the whole story.

In addition to health alerts at the CDC website you may also find useful information at this site:

Is Iran Next?


Is Washington Planning a Military Strike?

Recent reports in the German media suggest that the United States may be preparing its allies for an imminent military strike against facilities that are part of Iran's suspected clandestine nuclear weapons program.

It's hardly news that US President George Bush refuses to rule out possible military action against Iran if Tehran continues to pursue its controversial nuclear ambitions. But in Germany, speculation is mounting that Washington is preparing to carry out air strikes against suspected Iranian nuclear sites perhaps even as soon as early 2006.

German diplomats began speaking of the prospect two years ago -- long before the Bush administration decided to give the European Union more time to convince Iran to abandon its ambitions, or at the very least put its civilian nuclear program under international controls. But the growing likelihood of the military option is back in the headlines in Germany thanks to a slew of stories that have run in the national media here over the holidays.

The most talked about story is a Dec. 23 piece by the German news agency DDP from journalist and intelligence expert Udo Ulfkotte. The story has generated controversy not only because of its material, but also because of the reporter's past. Critics allege that Ulfkotte in his previous reporting got too close to sources at Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND. But Ulfkotte has himself noted that he has been under investigation by the government in the past (indeed, his home and offices have been searched multiple times) for allegations that he published state secrets -- a charge that he claims would underscore rather than undermine the veracity of his work.

According to Ulfkotte's report, "western security sources" claim that during CIA Director Porter Goss' Dec. 12 visit to Ankara, he asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to provide support for a possibile 2006 air strike against Iranian nuclear and military facilities. More specifically, Goss is said to have asked Turkey to provide unfettered exchange of intelligence that could help with a mission.

click the link above for the rest of the story...

or read more information at the following site:
Target Iran - Air Strikes
One potential military option that would be available to the United States includes the use of air strikes on Iranian weapons of mass destruction and missile facilities.

In all, there are perhaps two dozen suspected nuclear facilities in Iran. The 1000-megawatt nuclear plant Bushehr would likely be the target of such strikes. According to the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, the spent fuel from this facility would be capable of producing 50 to 75 bombs. Also, the suspected nuclear facilities at Natanz and Arak will likely be targets of an air attack....

and still more information on GLOBAL LIGHTNING (yes, that's spelled correctly)
Intelligence and military sources in the United States and abroad are reporting on various factors that indicate a U.S. military hit on Iranian nuclear and military installations, that may involve tactical nuclear weapons, is in the final stages of preparation.

Likely targets for saturation bombing are the Bushehr nuclear power plant (where Russian and other foreign national technicians are present), a uranium mining site in Saghand near the city of Yazd, the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, a heavy water plant and radioisotope facility in Arak, the Ardekan Nuclear Fuel Unit, the Uranium Conversion Facility and Nuclear Technology Center in Isfahan, the Tehran Nuclear Research Center, the Tehran Molybdenum, Iodine and Xenon Radioisotope Production Facility, the Tehran Jabr Ibn Hayan Multipurpose Laboratories, the Kalaye Electric Company in the Tehran suburbs, a reportedly dismantled uranium enrichment plant in Lashkar Abad, and the Radioactive Waste Storage Units in Karaj and Anarak.

rimary target: Bushehr nuclear reactor and hundreds of Russian technicians
Other first targets would be Shahab-I, II, and III missile launch sites, air bases (including the large Mehrabad air base/international airport near Tehran), naval installations on the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea, command, control, communications and intelligence facilities.

Secondary targets would include civilian airports, radio and TV installations, telecommunications centers, government buildings, conventional power plants, highways and bridges, and rail lines.

Oil installations and commercial port facilities would likely be relatively untouched by U.S. forces in order to preserve them for U.S. oil and business interests.

There has been a rapid increase in training and readiness at a number of U.S. military installations involved with the planned primarily aerial attack.

These include a Pentagon order to Fort Rucker, Alabama, to be prepared to handle an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 trainees, including civilian contractors, who will be deployed for Iranian combat operations. Rucker is home to the US Army's aviation training command, including the helicopter training school.

In addition, there has been an increase in readiness at nearby Hurlburt Field in Florida, the home of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command.

The U.S. attack on Iran will primarily involve aviation (Navy, Air Force, Navy-Marine Corps) and special operations assets.

There has also been a noticeable increase in activity at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California, a primary live fire training activity located in a desert and mountainous environment similar to target areas in Iran.

From European intelligence agencies comes word that the United States has told its NATO allies to be prepared for a military strike on Iranian nuclear development and military installations.

DEC 5 2005

The U.S. Strategic Command announced yesterday it had achieved an operational capability for rapidly striking targets around the globe using nuclear or conventional weapons, after last month testing its capacity for nuclear war against a fictional country believed to represent North Korea.

In a press release yesterday, STRATCOM said a new Joint Functional Component Command for Space and Global Strike on Nov. 18 “met requirements necessary to declare an initial operational capability.”

The requirements were met, it said, “following a rigorous test of integrated planning and operational execution capabilities during Exercise Global Lightning.”

The annual Global Lightning exercise last month tested U.S. strategic warfare capabilities, including the so called CONPLAN 8022 mission for a global strike, according to publicly available military documents.

CONPLAN 8022 is “a new strike plan that includes [a] pre emptive nuclear strike against weapons of mass destruction facilities anywhere in the world,” said Hans Kristensen, a consultant for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Kristensen first published the STRATCOM press release on his Web site, nukestrat.com.

Military analyst William Arkin, in a column on the Washington Post Web site in October, wrote that the classified exercise involved the response to a radiological “dirty bomb” attack on Alabama by the fictional country Purple or allied terrorists. “In the exercise, Purple is a Northeast Asian nation thinly veiled as North Korea,” according to Arkin.

Maj. Jeff Jones, STRATCOM spokesman, said today that the exercise incorporated various scenarios and added, “Everything is fictional that we put in the exercise.”

Global Lightning employed command and control personnel, according to the STRATCOM release.
Global strike attacks could be launched from U.S. long range bombers, nuclear submarines or land based ballistic missiles, according to the STRATCOM Web site.

The new command was created Aug. 9 in an attempt to integrate broad elements of U.S. military power into global strike plans and operations.

That, according to an Arkin commentary in the Washington Post in May, could include anything from electronic jamming to penetrating computer networks, to commando operations, to the use of a nuclear earth penetrator.

CONPLAN 8022, he wrote, is intended to address two scenarios using such capabilities: preventing a suspected imminent nuclear attack from a small state, and attacking an adversary’s suspected WMD infrastructure.

STRATCOM Commander Gen. James Cartwright said at an opening ceremony that the new command would help the country convey a “new kind of deterrence.”

According to the STRATCOM release, “The command’s performance during Global Lightning demonstrated preparedness to execute its mission of providing integrated space and global strike capabilities to deter and dissuade aggressors and when directed, defeat adversaries through decisive joint global effects in support of STRATCOM missions.”

According to Arkin’s article in May, CONPLAN 8022 was completed in 2003, “putting in place for the first time a pre emptive and offensive strike capability against Iran and North Korea.”

STRATCOM’s readiness for global strike was certified to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush in January 2004, Arkin reported.